How old is the Universe?

How old is the Universe?

Nov 12
How old is the Universe?

I’d like to take a moment to address the age-old question (forgive my pun), “How old is the Universe?”  I have had many conversations on the subject over the years with belief from a wide spectrum of different beliefs and I would like to humbly offer what I believe about the age of the Universe.

I feel it only fair to lay all of my cards on the table.  To anyone reading this article, there are a few things you need to know about me and where I am coming from.

First, I believe that God created the Universe.

I am uncomfortable talking about how long it took or what creative process He used.  I know that the Bible says He did it in six days.  I also understand the argument over whether they were six 24-hour days or whether they were six indefinite spans of time.  Personally, I believe the amount of time involved is a silly thing to argue over, especially when we cannot know definitively.  The important matter to me is that God created the Universe.  How long it took, whether there was a giant explosion when He spoke it into existence, or whether He used an evolutionary process is beside the point.  God is the Creator and the catalyst for whatever happened.

Secondly, I consider myself to be a scientist and reasonably intellectual.

I do not know of any scientific theory that precludes God, contradicts His existence, or that even contradicts the fact that He created the Universe.  I know plenty of theory that one can choose to believe is a contradiction of God, but let us be careful to call it what it is:  belief.  At most, I believe one can argue that science has offered some alternative explanations which do not require God as a Creator.  This is not the same as disproving a Creator.

Lastly, I am not writing this article to change your mind in any way.  I merely want to pose some possibilities, some thoughts, in hopes that perhaps something in here will be different than what you’ve considered before.  My intent is not to prove anything, nor to argue any particular view point.

If you are still willing to read past this point, I appreciate your patience, I applaud your curiosity, and I ask for your grace.

We know that we can determine the age of a tree by counting the rings in the trunk.  If we cut down a tree and count the rings, we know that to be the age of the tree.  This is accepted science.

But what if the tree were created?  What if it didn’t grow from a seed?  If we were to cut down such a tree, we could count the rings and determine an age for the tree.  Would our answer be correct?  I believe that it both would and would not.  The answer would be “correct” in that we used the correct method for determining the age of the tree.  Our answer would be “incorrect” because the tree had a supernatural origin that invalidated our measurement.  The tree would appear to be older than it actually was.

We know that cave formations take millions of years to develop, given what we know about water, erosion, limestone, and the other processes involved.  Given what we know from science about such formations, we can extrapolate the age of the formation.

But what if the cave formation was created?  What if it didn’t develop from the anticipated origin?  If were to measure such a formation using what we know from science, we would get both a correct and incorrect answer, just as with our tree.  We could examine such a formation and determine it to be thousands or even millions of years old.  This doesn’t make the science bad or wrong.  Nor does it mean that it wasn’t created only a few years ago.

The problem is that we don’t know the moment of origin.  We cannot know the “zero” on the timeline.  We can only work from what we believe to be the zero.

Starting from zero, I know what a 20 year-old looks like (general speaking).  If I see someone who appears to be 20, then I can assume that the person has been alive 20 years.  Unless I was there when the person was born (or there is someone I can consult about it), I have no way of knowing for certain that the person is actually 20 years old.  Human beings have an advantage over everything else in the Universe in that we can share the memories we have accumulated over the years.  I can tell you about things that happened when I was 5.  I remember aging.  I have counted the years of my existence.  As such, I feel like I can speak with a high degree of certain about how many years I’ve been around.

But if I were to pick up a rock in my yard, I would have no idea of its actual age.  Using science, we could estimate the age which it appears to be, assuming no supernatural origin.  However, we cannot know the age of the rock.

I believe that God created the Universe.  I believe that when He did so, He did not start it at “zero.”  I believe He made trees that even though they were only seconds old would appear to be years older.  I believe that God made rocks that even though they were only seconds old would appear to be much, much older.

So how old is the Universe?  I believe that the Universe appears to be much older than it actually is.  Is it only 5,000 years old?  I don’t know.  Honestly, I don’t think it matters.

What matters is what you believe, where you put the zero.  Do you believe that the Universe started at zero, from nothing, and that everything is exactly the age it appears to be?  Or do you believe that things appear to be older than they actually are?

I am in the latter camp.  I believe that God created the Universe and that it is much younger than it appears to be.

I do not believe that this contradicts, or is contradicted by, any scientific method used to measure the age of the Universe.  If we agreed on the zero, then we would agree on the age.  I believe in a supernatural origin for the Universe.  To those who disagree, I humbly submit that your view of the origin requires just as much “faith” and “belief” as mine.

There will be those for whom it is not enough that I say I believe God created the Universe.  They will take offense because I am open to possibilities other than six 24-hour days.  If that makes you more faithful, a better believer, a better Christian…I can live with that.  My Creator has chosen me.  He loves me.  And He took it upon Himself to pay for everything I have ever done wrong or ever will.  I am elated to be the least among His followers.

There will also be those for whom it is not enough for me to say that I accept the validity of scientific estimates for the age of the Universe.  They will take offense because I believe God created the Universe.  If that makes you smarter, more intellectual, a better scientist…I can live with that.  I have demonstrated scientific inquiry well enough to be awarded a Ph.D. and to have a tiny number of peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.  I am elated to be the least among the scientific community.

Thank you for reading.  I am honored and humbled that you have given your time to this article.

6 comments

  1. “The problem is that we don’t know the moment of origin. We cannot know the “zero” on the timeline. We can only work from what we believe to be the zero.”

    LOVE IT!!!

  2. I must say — you introduce an interesting point with your Zero Hour Theory. And I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. Thank you very much for taking the time to write it.

    • Thank you, Stephen. My goal is always for these writings to do as you say: introduce interesting points. My fear is that they come across as “I have all the answers.” I feel truly privileged that you read them.

  3. Marc

    This is very much like to what my beliefs have evolved over the past few years. Though, in addition, I firmly believe that the reason for this is so that while we try to find the truth, we will find the Truth. How the Truth is found may vary from one person to the next, but in any case, he who seeks will find. It’s just a matter of whether or not they can recognize it.

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